The Newman Design Squiggle is a visual representation of the design process. It captures the process of going from chaos and uncertainty to clarity and focus. It can help to visualize our personal journeys as well.
I recently came across this simple illustration called “The Process of Design Squiggle” by Daniel Newman. He is a professional designer who uses this illustration to explain to his clients how the design process works.
Design is the end-state of a messy process. In the beginning it’s filled with research, ideas, possibilities. The end result is uncertain.
It gradually gets narrowed down into a concept, and then a prototype. Eventually, it gets refined into a final design.
The messiness in the beginning can’t be removed from the process. It’s essential to finding the right idea, the right concept to pursue. If you try to start with the design, you’re likely to miss something critical. You need that period of research and uncertainty and exploration to make sure the concept you’ve chosen is the right one.
This strikes me as being the same process we go through in our lives.
FINDING OUR PURPOSE
The process of self-discovery and finding our purpose can also be represented by Newman’s squiggle.
In the beginning, we pursue various experiences, learn different subjects, and explore numerous opportunities. We don’t know where we’re headed yet, so we’re naturally all over the place. When you look at most teenagers, college students and young adults, the chaos and lack of direction in their lives is essentially the chaos of the squiggle.
Eventually, we come to decide on a path. The squiggle narrows to a specific route. And we move forward, leaving much of the chaos behind.
If we pursue that path productively, we will achieve some measure of success. But if we’ve chosen this path without the necessary exploration and experimentation, we may find ourselves on the wrong path and pursuing success that isn’t meaningful to us.
I love this simple image as a representation of the journey we are all on. It beautifully captures the transformation we all go through. It provides context and meaning to the difficult periods we all go through as we discover who we are.
As you look at this image and think about your life, here are two questions we all need to answer:
1. Are you experimenting purposefully and strategically?
Uncertainty does not equal a lack of agency. You can dictate what you learn about yourself and how.
Learn high value skills. Develop strong relationships. If there is something you love doing, find ways to connect it to other areas of your life. The better you experiment early, the more doors will open to your future.
2. Did you decide your path purposefully?
Many of us end up committing to a path for other reasons: family responsibilities, pressure from others, a lack of belief in other options, etc.
You have a choice. You can choose to pursue a path that aligns to who you are. If you aren’t sure, then invite a little more of the squiggle into your life. Experiment, explore and experience some new things. Then when you know who you want to be, commit to that path.
There’s no such thing as being too late to find and pursue your purpose. Keep squiggling!
Bryan Green is the co-founder, Editor, and COO of Go Be More. He changed his path a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. You can give him feedback at bryan◎gobemore.co or on our Facebook page.